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March 22 MAWO Emergency Picket
& Forum Report
First Events in Canada to Protest War on Libya
Draw Over 85 People in Vancouver, B.C
On March 22nd 2011, peace-loving people in Vancouver responded to the urgent call of “No War on Libya!” and came together for coordinated events involving an emergency picket in front of the US Consulate, and a free public forum. Over 85 people participated in both events, which were the first to be organized across Canada against the US/Canada/France/NATO military intervention against Libya - alongside actions throughout the US and other countries in the world.
In only four days since the imperialist forces started bombing Libya, over 162 Tomahawk missiles have killed over 90 people, and destroyed homes and infrastructure. Both events made the point that the bombing of Libya is the opening of a new front in the New Era of War and Occupation, which began with the vicious invasion of Afghanistan in 2011 and has continued on a brutal path with invasion and occupations in Iraq, Haiti, Somalia and other countries.
The day began as picketers held signs outside the US Consulate with the demands “Stop Bombing Libya!” “No US/UN/Canada/NATO Intervention in Libya!” “US/UN/Canada/NATO Hands Off Libya!” “Self-Determination for Libya!” and “No War on Libya!” Andrew Barry, MAWO co-chair and MC of the picket, opened the action by emphasizing the destruction that foreign intervention has already caused in Libya as the crowd grew and passer-by's looked on and read MAWO’s new newsletter #32, which is focused on the current war on Libya.
Two US antiwar organizers also gave solidarity greetings and spoke against the foreign intervention in Libya via telephone. The first was Jane Cutter, coordinator of ANSWER Seattle (Act Now to Stop War & End Racism), and then Sara Flounders, Co-Director of the International Action Center in New York City. Protesters then picketed in front of the US Consulate, raising their picket signs high and joining together in loud chants against war and bombing of Libya.
After the first round of picketing, Charles Boylan from the Communist Party of Canada – Marxist Leninist (CPC-ML) spoke, denouncing the attacks against Libya. Tamara Hansen, coordinator of Vancouver Communities in Solidarity with Cuba (VCSC) then took to the megaphone and read a statement on Libya from the Cuban Foreign Ministry, which condemns the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution against Libya, and the subsequent attacks which undermine Libya's inalienable right to self-determination. Tamara closed by saying, “At a time when imperialist governments are supporting and participating in the attacks on Libya, the statement showed how a government can stand by the values of humanity and dignity. Shame on the governments of the US, Canada and France!”
After another energetic round of picketing, Aaron Mercredi, organizer with Mobilization Against War & Occupation (MAWO) and the Indigenous Rights & Action Project (IRAP) spoke. Aaron talked about the huge mass movements that have swept across the Middle East and North Africa against US backed dictators, “These movements have been an advance in favor of poor and oppressed people against the imperialist control which has dominated the region for decades,” he stated, “but with this has come the threat and now intervention in Libya by imperialist countries that are trying to regain their control in the region. We must unite against their war on Libya!”
After a final round of picketing, Janine Solanki, MAWO outreach coordinator, spoke against the resolution which was passed in the UN Security Council which authorized the creation of a “No Fly Zone” and left the door wide open to the subsequent bombing of Libya. She outlined the hypocrisy and irony of imperialist governments like the US and Canada that claim to be doing a “humanitarian intervention” through deadly missiles, while they have killed millions of people through decades of ongoing wars and occupations in dozens of countries.
The picket ended with more chanting, and with a resolve to continue organizing and protesting against the foreign intervention and bombing of Libya.
Although the picket was over, the day's antiwar activities were not! March 19th was the 8th anniversary of the brutal invasion of Iraq, which continues to be occupied today, and to address this MAWO organized a public forum titled “Iraq is Still Occupied: 8 Years of War, Devastation & Resistance”. The picketers put down their placards and made their way together to the forum, to review and discuss both the continuing war on Iraq and the parallels between the lead-up to the war on Iraq and the current campaign against Libya.
Andrew Barry also opened this forum, which started with 45 minutes of film clips which looked at the history of imperialist intervention against Iraq including 12 years of UN sanctions before a US-led invasion and then new films on the current situation in Libya.
After the film clips the speaker for the evening, MAWO co-chair Alison Bodine, was invited up. Alison opened with the comment, “Some times in history, events are so similar that you become more outraged, more angry. How coincidental that the attacks on the Libyan people began on the same day as those against Iraq 8 years ago.” Her presentation followed the propaganda campaign which was initiated to create support for the invasion of Iraq in 2003, all of which is very similar to what is being used against Libya today.
Alison emphasized that despite the efforts by the US government to convince people that the war in Iraq is ending, they are in fact settling in for a long term in which the domination and plunder of Iraq will continue – making antiwar action evermore necessary. She also pointed out the heroic resistance of the Iraqi people, who after 8 years haven't given up fighting against the foreign occupation.
To close, Alison again drew together the connection between the war on Iraq, and the opening of a war on Libya, the next front in the New Era of War and Occupation. “We need to be out in the public, educating people about the real reasons for these wars, and demand the right to self-determination for Iraq and Libya, as well as all oppressed nations.”
Alison's talk was followed by a very dynamic discussion, which opened much discourse and dialogue both on the war on Iraq, the current situation in Libya, and the mass movement in the Middle East and North Africa.
In both action and discussion, protest and education, it was an important and very necessary day of opposing both ongoing wars and occupations, and especially against the opening of a new bloody war against the people of Libya.